More Risks For BRCA Carriers

Pancreatic cancer risks double in female mutant BRCA carriers

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Genetic mutations are often the root cause of some cancers. Some of these changes are inherited. Altered BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, for example, increase risks for breast cancer.

These gene changes play a role in another cancer.

Women with inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations have nearly twice the risk of developing pancreatic cancer as women without these altered genes. The outlook for carriers is not particularly favorable.

"Family history of cancer? Ask about genetic testing."

Researchers at Women's College Research Institute in Toronto, Canada followed 5,149 women with a BRCA mutation to find out how many developed pancreatic cancer.

They also looked at how many of the study participants’ children were diagnosed with the disease.

A total of eight cases of pancreatic cancer were seen among those studied. The scientists divided these cases among women with a BRCA1 mutation and those with changes in the BRCA2 gene.

The authors wrote, “The risk of pancreatic cancer is approximately doubled in female BRCA carriers.”

The 5-year survival rate for those with BRCA1 mutations was 5 percent and 4 percent for those who had inherited the altered BRCA2 gene.

The authors concluded, “The poor survival in familial pancreatic cancer underscores the need for novel anti-tumoral strategies.

This study was published in the October 25 issue of the British Journal of Cancer. No conflicts on interest were disclosed.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 14, 2012
Last Updated:
November 16, 2012